As the Ebola virus continues to take a devastating toll on West Africa, the rest of the world has begun taking extra precautions to fight the disease should it appear on their soil. Reports from the Spanish Ministry of Health suggest that at least ten, and possibly more, individuals in the country have been tested for the virus.
English-language website The Spain Report translates comments, distributed this week from a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, confirming that “at least ten” tests have been administered in the country since April, “and they likely won’t be the last.” The spokesperson did not elaborate on where in the country the tests had been done, but noted that, as none returned positive, the government had not made them public. The spokeswoman explained, “The World Health Organisation does not say countries must communicate every possible case or test.”
The northern Spanish newspaper El Periódico de Aragón corroborates the story, adding that all those tested had arrived from one of the four affected countries: Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. The Ministry of Health, the report adds, described the cases as “low suspicion” and the symptoms in these patients as, in some occasions, compatible with a common cold.
While The Spain Report lists five different cases of known tests around the country, the others remain a mystery. Some have been published in local news. For example, a middle-aged man who had returned to his home province of Biscay from Sierra Leone had been taken in for testing in the Basque Country. He remains in quarantine as of Monday, according to local reports.
His case is the exception, however, as most who have been tested remain unknown. The Spanish government is most interested in keeping the virus out of urban areas, as a potential dissemination of Ebola in Madrid or Barcelona could be devastating to the nation.
Spain is the only European country to have lost a citizen to Ebola so far. Brother Miguel Pajares, a priest helping to care for Ebola victims in Liberia, died in Madrid after being air-lifted back to the country from Monrovia. Pajares, 75 years old, had been given the experimental drug ZMapp, but he was unable to survive the disease.